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Land Records E-recording Pilot to Launch in Baltimore County

(TOWSON, Md. – October 30, 2014) The Maryland Judiciary is working with its government partners to provide a more convenient system for land record customers to record documents. The Baltimore County Circuit Court is planning a pilot project that will start next spring that will allow customers to electronically record, or e-record, land record documents.

The land records e-recording pilot is a collaborative effort by the Judiciary’s Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), the Baltimore County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, Baltimore County Department of Budget and Finance, and Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. After months of research and a competitive bidding process and evaluation, the e‑recording company Simplifile has been chosen to develop the pilot.

Simplifile, an experienced e-recording vendor with more than 1,140 counties using their system, is developing a customized system for the pilot in Maryland. The system will be developed at no cost to the Judiciary, Baltimore County or the State. Once the e-recording pilot is launched in Baltimore County, land records customers will have the option of electronically recording their documents and paying a small convenience fee per document. Existing fees will stay the same; the convenience fee will apply only to e-recording. The e-recording system will be fully integrated with the current land records system, known as ELROI.

The current paper filing process is cumbersome and time-consuming. People who want to have land records recorded must go to several locations to move documents through the Department of Assessments and Taxation, local finance offices, and courthouses. E-recording provides a convenient, secure, and accurate way to record these documents, saving time and resources.

“E-recording is a winning strategy because we are giving our customers the option to file their land records documents electronically using a system that is no cost to implement and will reduce costs related to the paper process,” said Julie Ensor, Clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. “The e‑recording industry has matured, so our pilot project comes at an appropriate time.”

State Court Administrator Pamela Q. Harris noted that e-recording systems are operating successfully in surrounding jurisdictions, including Virginia and Washington, D.C. “E-recording is another essential step forward as Maryland’s courts strive to meet citizens’ needs for convenient, streamlined services, increased efficiency, and improved access.” Harris added, “The true scope goes far beyond electronic recording and can bring about a more accurate and efficient way to transfer real property. Documents will be integrated with the existing land records system, ELROI, and after verification, they will transfer to the Archives for permanent preservation and public access.”

“This service should save staff time and resources and increase efficiency, which will benefit all our citizens,” said Third Judicial Circuit Administrative Judge Kathleen G. Cox (Baltimore and Harford counties). “The time that is saved can be used by staff to provide other services, including helping people who come to the courthouse.”

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said, “With our continued pursuit of technological advancements in Baltimore County, we are pleased to participate in this collaborative effort with our agencies working with the Baltimore County Clerk's office and the Judiciary to introduce e‑recording.”

Now that Simplifile has been chosen as the vendor, a project work team is being created, and this team will meet with the vendor in November to finalize requirements. “Simplifile understands the workflow process unique to Maryland that includes involving related agencies, and they will configure the system accordingly,” said Barbara Hansman, Project Manager, Judicial Information Systems. Testing of the system should start in January, and the land records e-recording pilot is scheduled to launch in Baltimore County in the late spring of 2015.

The scope of the pilot will be limited at first to deeds, deeds of trust, mortgages, releases and certificates of satisfaction, and a few others. Over time, more document types will be added. Members of the Maryland State Bar and the Maryland land title industry, as well as other clerk's offices will be consulted for their advice and concerns.

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